1. Sam is an authentic teenaged girl with OCD who has successfully hidden her condition from her friends. She spends every second worrying about how what she does or thinks will make her seem crazy. But Sam goes from being a girl who is scared of people knowing about her condition, to a girl who learns to own it and be who she is, surrounding herself with people who know about her condition and support her.
2. Tamara Stone clearly researched OCD and accurately portrays the thoughts and feelings of someone with an anxiety disorder. This is the type of book that helps teens understand what it feels like to be anxiety ridden.
3. Sam is diagnosed with OCD and is talking with her therapist, Sue, weekly. Sue is portrayed as a loving, supportive, helpful person who makes Sam’s life better. We need more realistic portrayals of therapy in teen YA books!
4. There is a completely surprising twist at the climax of the book that makes makes the story tie together beautifully.
5. The poetry in this book helps teens understand that just writing your feelings down makes life better, whether the words are beautiful or not. As a writer, this book inspired me to write more. The poetry sprinkled throughout the book brings complexity to the characters and their relationships and ultimately makes the book a masterpiece in plot and storyline.
6. Tamara Stone’s words are beautifully written and filled with honest emotion and insight into the head of a teen who wants to hide how she is different from her popular friends.
7. This story stays with you. It was one of the first books I read as a judge for the Cybils award, and after reading 81 more books within two months, I still reflect on it.
I was thrilled when our panel of 7 judges chose Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone to be one of the YA finalists for the CYBILS award. Here’s what I wrote for the second round of judges:
Sam worries that her popular friends will discover her OCD. But her worst fear is: “What if I’m crazy?” In this beautifully crafted book, Sam transforms from a girl who is afraid of who she is, into a girl who owns who she is–flaws included. Covering tough topics like depression, anxiety, peer pressure, and suicide, this compelling book inspires and captivates. Brimming with poetry and honest emotion and insight into the mind of a teen who suffers from anxiety, Every Last Word proves the hurting and healing power of every last word.
ps. I wrote this post before the Valentine’s Day announcement of the Cybils award! Now we have 8 reasons to read Every Last Word!
What books about teen mental health issues do you recommend?